Thursday, February 16, 2012

Future Nerds: Tips on tabletop gaming for parents

(The first in a series of reviews based on the Lego build-and-play games.)

My daughter Avery is all of 7 years old. She loves to paint 40k Orks and help dad base his Marines and Daemons. She’ll even humor me by trying her best to play Nexus Ops, a board game from Fantasy Flight Games.

In turn, I often humor her by playing Candyland and various other insufferable games. But, she’s finally to an age where I can influence her gaming habits to more amicable terrritory: dungeon crawls.


As the tagline goes… “The World of HEROICA was a peaceful place of culture and beauty. Now overrun by monsters and in turmoil, the fate of the world now hangs by a thread. Join the heroes and free HEROICA!”

I stumbled across this toddler dungeon crawl accidently as I was browsing through blogs and other bits of internet refuse. I was immediately intrigued due to my childhood love of Legos and adult love of tabletop gaming. And because I have a kid that I need to make sure to keep her brain engaged. I started with the one that appeared the easiest to grasp: Draida.

Picking this up from Toys’R Us as her Valentine’s Gift this week, we got home, ate dinner, and immediately began to assemble the game board. Before I finished opening the last of three bags of bits, she already had the easy-to-follow assembly instructions open and was putting together the starting point for our heroes, a boat that has landed at Draida Bay. Our task? To defeat the Goblin King and his minions to restore the Crystal Crown.

Or, at least that’s what we came up with; a slight alteration from the actual rulebook (which is all of two pages long!). With the rules being easy to understand and simple enough to grasp in the first 30 seconds of starting play, I thought we might have a winner on our hands.

Half the fun is putting the game together. My wife and I had a proud moment watching her build everything on her own. We just observed and offered helpful advice, often to my daughter’s dismay (“I can do it myself”). Avery had a sense of accomplishment after sitting back and surveying her job well-done.

The game says it is for two players, but we easily made it work for all three of us to play at once. The rulebook encourages you to make up your own rules on the fly and remember, it’s all for fun.

Avery and my wife played the heroes, a wizard and barbarian respectively, with each having his own special power. I played the monster master, controlling the four goblins and goblin king.

The entire game is played with one die, an especially nice die made of a rubber composite and marked with Lego tiles. Throw in a magic potion to restore health, and we had ourselves a game!

Movement and combat are all done on the single die and we finished our first game within 10 minutes; my daughter victorious by defeating the goblin king twice (once to receive the Crystal Crown and the second time to knock him out).

Final Comments:

Lego Heroica is perfect for parents looking for a new way to bond with their children and for those of us into tabletop gaming, also ends up being fun for everyone involved. Plus, it is cheaper than the least expensive 40k or WFB box set at $15-$25. Aimed at the 7-12 year old crowd, a game of Heroica only takes 10 minutes or less and you can transform it into whatever you want. Make up rules and change them as you go. I feel that a game like this encourages critical thinking and that’s an important skill for kids to develop young.

Many of us FC40k bloggers either have one or two children, or have one on the way. I think there are probably others out there on the internets with kids that are looking for a way out of the Candyland stage and want to transition their kids into something more advanced. (You don't go from Twister to Warmachine overnight!)

Consider Heroica as a way to make that leap. Draida is the first of four HEROICA themed games available, each becoming more detailed (with later versions that include collecting loot and buying weapons). Over the next several weeks, I will be posting reviews of each experience. Stay tuned!


  1. Dang I am going to pick up all of these and put them in the kid's closet until he is 7 years old.

  2. something i planned to mention in subsequent posts... there isn't a single female character in the Heroica line of games. i've convinced Avery that the archer is a girl (but it's not true lol).

    i recognize that the game is marketed to boys, but it still disappoints.

  3. That is pretty disappointing. Very surprising, actually.

    You could re-paint one!

  4. Toys R Us has what I believe is an exclusive case that is large enough to fit the pieces from all the Heroica sets.

  5. that's true! i'm planning to make that part of my final purchase and review :)

  6. Lego has a "Star Wars: Battle of Hoth" game coming out that looks a lot like Heroica. I've almost picked up Heroica or one of the other Lego games a few times, only stopping because I don't have kids or know anyone who does.

  7. TOP TIP!!! My boys are only 2 and 1, but I'll be picking these up in eager anticipation. Cheers.

  8. The first wargame I ever played was a system I designed so my Lego Knights could fight my brother's Lego Pirates and my buddy's Lego Astronauts. We even demoed it at my 4th grade renaissance fair in school! A few years later I discovered Battle Tech and the rest was history. If Oscar weren't so dead set on starting his own Ork army this year, I'd probably buy the entire lot of them. Heck, I'll probably do it anyway!